Dialectics and HOW things are related

Sat Jul 15 00:30:55 MDT 1995

This is a post in response to two questions on my comments in previous
posts.  A third on ceteris paribus clause, from Lisa R. must what until I
have a bit more time.

Chris S. in his note critiqued my use of "certainty."  The context that I
used this is different from being certainty of anything, in that I mean
to say that it is all put meaningless to attempt a strict distinction
between our perceptions of things, and the property of
things-in-themselves.  Which is not to deny that either exist, and are
distinct.  In this sense we can not be "certainty" that we have described
the properties of the thing-in-itself, or are simply describing our
perception of the thing.   This is not a disaster for science, but in fact
implies the need for science.  Moreover it is not meant to put
(unnecessary) limts to human reason (in a Kantian sense) but to offer
hope for science.  And (imo) suggests the importance of a dialectical
methodology, because it is in the dialectic method and logic which our
categories are critically evaluated.  I hope that this helps to clairify the
meaning meant, however, if this Putnamian jargon stills seem to over-state
my case I can try again in a more subtle Bhaskarian language.  Or maybe
apply more directly to dialectics and categories.

The second comment has to do with my comment that "Ollman's account
[of dialectical method] suggests almost a Feyerabendian stance, against for
example against Hegelian dialecticians."  My reference to Feyerabend is
to is infamous metaphor of scientific method in his *Against Method*
"anything goes" which is meant to real say 'no strict rules'.

Now, unlike Feyerabend explicit statment, Ollman implicitly in his
*Dialectical Investigations* commits the method of dialectics to 'no
strict rules'.  However, Ollman does offer a methodological structure for
his epistemological dialectics with his three modes of abstraction.  My
problem is that this structure does not suggest in any way how dialectics
is different from (many) non-dialectical thinkers.

Hegelians for example are quite precise with the rules to be followed,
along with seemingly Marx (via Tony Smith's argument).  Ollman to me
seems to not be willing to commit dialectical method to anything but
vauge methodological "suggestions" viz. modes of abstraction.

Personally I am not sure on how strict to be with such rules, or exactly
how to distingish a dialectical thinker  from a non-dialectical thinker,
or for that matter a good one from a bad one.  Hegelians and others are
willing to make such claims, based on certain dialectical methodological

Thus, what should of said of Ollman's account is not that it takes a
Feyerabendian stance but is instead open to a Feyerabendian critique.

Hans Despain
despain at econ.sbs.utah.edu
hans.despain at m.cc.utah.edu

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